ISR Visitor Procedures-Institute for Software Research - Carnegie Mellon University


Visitors from other universities and from industry can add significant value to the ISR community. However, there are various university policies and procedures that must be followed to protect the department, the university, and the visitor during their stay. In addition, effective January 5, 2015, the State Department has imposed new requirements on visitors from outside of the US ("J Visitors").

This procedural document provides an outline of the steps that must be followed to bring a visitor to campus. Please note that students who have recently graduated from the University may be considered visitors for purposes of employment and immigration; please contact Helen (per the below) for all visitors, regardless of source.

Initiating the Request

  1. Email Helen Higgins indicating your desire to invite a visitor to the university; if you have not already spoken with Nick about office space requirements, please copy him on the email.   
  2. In your email message, please provide the following information:
    • Full name of visitor
    • Country of citizenship
    • Visitor address and contact information
    • Proposed period of visit, including arrival and departure dates
    • Email address for the visitor
    • Names and email addresses for any dependents who will accompany the visitor (e.g., spouse, children)
    • Office space requirements
    • Confirmation that living expenses are being handled by the company/institution
    • Other special requirements, if any
    • Please also answer the following questions for Export-Control/Compliance Purposes:
      • What is the purpose of the visitor’s stay at CMU? Please provide a brief description of any research work the visitor will be conducting while on campus.
      • Will the visitor be performing any work related to any CMU sponsored research (grant, contract, etc.)?
      • Is the visitor employed or funded by another institution?  If yes – Name of Sponsoring Institution
      • Are there any existing technology control plans established in the area the visitor will be working?  Will the visitor have access to any export controlled information or materials?
      • Will the visitor need to use or require access to any third party materials, data, and/or information for the work contemplated (i.e. materials, data, and/or information received under a data use agreement, equipment agreement, MTA, NDA, grant, etc.)?
      • Will the visitor have access to or be provided any confidential and/or proprietary information including any potentially patentable information/technology?
      • Does sponsoring faculty member intend to publish the results of the collaboration?
  3. Helen will then begin working with various university departments AND WITH THE VISITOR to process the request  

English Proficiency

The State Department now requires us to objectively measure the English language proficiency of all new J visitors. OIE is required to retain evidence of how proficiency was measured and present it to the State Department upon request. While a TOEFL score or similar documentation is generally sufficient, we expect that most faculty will simply wish to interview the visitor candidates either in person or via videoconferencing to determine proficiency. An interview sheet must be used to document this conversation and can be obtained here.

Financial Considerations

If a visitor is going to be assessed a fee for the visit (generally this applies to corporate visitors but may apply to others), you must contact Nick Frollini when the request is initiated. Nick will review with you the terms and conditions of such a visit and discuss how funds will be allocated once the visitor arrives and will handle invoicing as is appropriate. All fees to be paid during their stay must be itemized and provided in the invitation letter.

If the faculty member host is going to provide financial support while the visitor is here, a formal offer letter will need to be requested from the Business Office (Helen Higgins will prepare the letter). The university mandates minimum compensation levels for foreign visiting scholars; see Helen Higgins for current minimum rates. Note that paid visitors will be subject to additional requirements under PA law and university policy, including criminal background checks. 

Invitation Package

Faculty members should work with Helen Higgins to assemble an invitation package that will include:

  • Invitation letter; offer letter for CMU Supported External Visitors.
  • Visitor agreement (provided by Helen based on the University’s most current standard form; these are not negotiable).
  • Other information if needed.
In order to comply with all of the new State Department requirements, all invitation letters must be prepared by Helen. These letters and the accompanying documentation will now be more complicated and subject to additional requirements and this will ensure that all letters will meet OIE, CMU, and State Department requirements. 

Two Weeks Prior to Arrival

  1. Confirm the actual arrival date with Helen Higgins.
  2. Confirm the need for an office space.
  3. Review computing needs with Helen and/or the ISR ITS Staff:
    • Will a machine be needed?
    • What about wired network access?
    • Andrew and/or CS email accounts?
    • CMU ID Card for access?
  4. Provide charge strings to Helen for these expenses (for Corporate Visitors, the Business Office will provide the charge string once all agreements have been signed and invoices processed; no charges will be authorized for Corporate Visitors unless all documentation is in place and invoices have been processed).

This document was updated on January 8, 2015. Please review as the requirements have changed due to changes in State Department regulations.


All requests to bring visitors to CMU must be initiated at least 60 days prior to the visitor’s arrival; this is particularly critical with international visitors.